Partridge v Crittenden [1968]

Partridge v Crittenden [1968] 1 WLR 1204 is a case that clarified the legal status of advertisements in the context of contract law. The key principle established in this case is that advertisements are generally construed by the courts as invitations to treat and not offers.

The defendant advertised the sale of Bramblefinch cocks and hens at a price of 25 shillings each. The defendant was charged with the offence of unlawfully offering for sale a wild live bird, contrary to the Protection of Birds Act 1954. The defendant was initially found guilty by magistrates, leading to an appeal.

In the High Court, the crucial issue was whether the advertisement constituted an offer for the sale of birds or if it was merely an invitation to treat. Lord Parker CJ, delivering the judgment, held that the defendant was not liable under the 1954 Act because the advertisement was an invitation to treat, not an offer.

Lord Parker explained that a price list, such as the one in the advertisement, does not amount to an offer. Instead, it is considered an invitation for others to make offers. He emphasised the distinction between an offer and an invitation to treat, stating that a contract is formed when an offer is accepted. If advertisements were treated as offers, a seller might be obligated to fulfil contracts for the sale of items beyond their available stock, leading to impractical and unfair outcomes for merchants.

This case thus established the principle that advertisements are generally seen as invitations to treat, and a contract is formed when a buyer responds to the invitation by making an offer. This distinction is important in understanding the dynamics of contract formation in commercial transactions involving advertisements.
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